Rose Byrne, MNEK, Drug Dependence, and More: Today’s Recommended Reading

Here at Flavorwire, we pride ourselves on not only writing some of the best content on the internet, but keeping an eye on all of the great writing that other folks on the ‘net are doing, too. Today, we have a personal essay about drug dependence and grief, a cover story about the stunning actress Rose Byrne, an interview with UK singer MNEK about his work on Beyoncé’s “Hold Up,” and an op-ed on the trend of Black actors being cast in roles that require them to hide their face.

At Rookie Mag, B.F. tells a beautiful story about drug dependence — whether it can be equated to “addiction” or not — death, grief, and recovery.

Though the “reliant attachment” individuals can have with weed is still widely debated on the lines of addiction (is it or is it not), this writer doesn’t find the distinction relevant. She addresses her marijuana attachment as a coping mechanism for the grief she is enduring after her mother’s death, regardless, and looks to the book Women Who Run with the Wolves for her salvation. The message of recovery is powerful.

It would be foolish to lie to myself, or to anyone else, by saying that I do not smoke every day. I don’t smoke copious amounts, but that does not change the dependence. In ninth grade health and in Mind Over Matter group, the slide that received the most scoffs was always the one saying that while you cannot be physically addicted to weed, you can be psychologically addicted. Your mind can crave it: “I should smoke right now” grows into a mass that can ache until release. It can be an annoyance. It can be a hellscape. And then there is the “why” to face. Whether it needs to be painfully coaxed out from its crawlspace, or it smacks you in the face, in any form, it’s there.

At Vulture, Kyle Buchanan ponders why so many Black actors in Hollywood get cast in roles that hide their face (and, in turn, their blackness).

With three of Idris Elba’s recent roles being voice roles for animated features, and another forcing him to bury his face under prosthetics, the world is being deprived of seeing his extremely charming face. When the same things are happening for other actors of color, like Lupita Nyong’o, Paula Patton, and Zoe Saldana, one has to wonder whether or not these casting decisions are deliberate: “We’ll hire them but only if we can’t see them.”

And yet, when these are the only big roles available, who can blame these actors for taking them? When black actors want to play human beings or lead a film themselves, they’re continually forced to work outside the major studio system or in independent film. Aside from Saldana’s recurring role as Uhura in the Star Trek films — a part that has traditionally always gone to a black actress — the last time she was able to appear in her own skin in a big-budget studio film was 2011’s Colombiana. Elba’s talent has been apparent for ages, but outside of his negligible cameos in Marvel movies, he’s spent the last three years since Pacific Rim working almost exclusively in independent movies or smaller films for specialty distributors.

On The Cut, Jessica Pressler profiles Rose Byrne, specifically addressing her transformation from “serious” actress (see her turn in Damages) to the queen of comedy we now see in movies like Neighbors and its upcoming sequel.

After career-making performances in Get Him to the Greek and Bridesmaids, Rose Byrne is perhaps better known as “the most in-demand supporting actress for comedies” than she is for her non-comedic roles, like Insidious or X-Men. And it’s for this exact reason that it’s hard to imagine that, just a few years ago, the Get Him to the Greek director was shocked to see her at the audition because of how serious of an actress she was thought to be at the time.

The pretty or otherwise adorable person who shocks by saying something outlandish can be another kind of box. But Byrne hasn’t stopped pushing for her characters to be interesting — whether it’s insisting that the cartoonish villain she plays in Spy have outlandishly huge baked-Alaska hair, or making her character inNeighbors, her second film with Stoller, less of a downer.

On Pitchfork, Marc Hogan talks to MNEK about his involvement with Beyoncé’s Lemonade.

With a U.S. Billboard Hot 100 top 10 single and writing credits on both Madonna’s Rebel Heart and Kylie Minogue’s KISS, the UK-based MNEK is already a star in his own right. But, of course any star would fall to their knees for the chance to work with Beyoncé and MNEK is no different. He contributed a line to the Diplo-produced “Hold Up” and couldn’t be more elated at how it came out. He also attests to Beyoncé’s agency in her songwriting processes.

That’s the thing. The way she works, she is a writer in herself. And then she pieces together stuff and she pieces together, you know, Diplo’s going to work on the track; she’s going to send it to me to do a melody idea. That’s the process. And it worked because she’s overlooking everything, saying “I like this, I like that, this is how this should sound, this is how that should sound.” It’s all coming out of the process.